SHERIDAN — Bryson Shosten quit swimming and didn’t intend on coming back. The Sheridan High School freshman wasn’t seeing the time drops during his years on USA Swimming and had every intention of closing the book on his time in the pool.
However, the chlorine-filled air, early morning practices and countless laps have brought Shosten back, and at this weekend’s state meet, he’ll close the chapter on what has proven to be a surprising freshman campaign.
“I realized how much I missed swimming over the summer,” Shosten said. “This year I’ve really picked it up, and I’m trying to do my best.”
Moore remembers Shosten from when he coached him in USA Swimming. Shosten attended practices and went to meets, but didn’t really have the full buy-in that lends itself to time drops.
And throw in a year away from the sport, and Moore simply didn’t know what to expect from Shosten this winter.
“He’s been one of the biggest surprises, for sure,” Moore said.
Moore allowed some of his swimmers, early on this season, to choose their events. He wanted them to find where they fit best. Shosten chose distance.
Competing in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle isn’t difficult simply for the fact that it’s physically demanding, but it’s also challenging from the mental standpoint — an area where Shosten has thrived.
“It takes a lot of discipline,” Shosten said. “You don’t want to go out too fast at the beginning or else you’ll die out, and you don’t want to go too slow because then you won’t get a good time.”
It only took Shosten about half the season to find that rhythm and punch his ticket to the state meet. At that time, he represented the third Bronc to do so as Thomas Yates and diver Emmett Potter had already clinched spots at state early in the season. Isaac Otto is the fourth and final individual qualifier, and he earned his spot at the conference meet.
Moore will take most of his team to state, as some will compete in preliminary relays. Last season saw Oscar Patten claim an individual state title and score a share of the team points.
With Patten now swimming at Henderson State University, Moore has looked to each person on his team to pick up the rope and help pull the program along.
“The best part of this year — when you don’t have a guy like Oscar — is they all are expected to give something,” Moore said. “They’ve all kind of stepped into that role. No one can just sit back and let Oscar score all of our points. If we’ve wanted to compete in any way, it has taken everybody.”
That will remain true at state, beginning Friday in Gillette. All four individual qualifiers have an opportunity — based on seed times — to advance to finals or consolation finals. But to do so, each will likely have to swim a personal best.
“Those guys that are on the bubble, I’d love for them to have that experience (of finals),” Moore said. “Overall, I just want them to improve and have a good meet for them.”